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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

November 16, 2020

Steve Suman

This week looks reasonably good (considering the season), with some sunshine, some wind, and temperatures covering a wide range. The temperature pushing 50 degrees on Thursday is definitely a high point! There is no precipitation in the forecast until Friday (though always subject to change!) Enjoy some outdoor time this week!


“We will have to wait a little longer for ice on the Quiet Lakes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “We are back to November weather and it will be interesting to see how much longer we have for open water fishing. Anglers are usually scouting out early ice spots at this time.

“Fishing is stable for anglers able to take advantage of the late season bite. Fish are active, more so in areas seeing little pressure, but you will probably have the lake to yourself.

“There is no musky fishing report this week, as the sucker supply is scarce to none.

“Walleyes are very active, with the best tactics fan casting or trolling crankbaits over hard substrates. You might also catch a northern pike or largemouth bass, as they do share common areas at this time.

“Smallmouth bass fishing is good on crankbaits and plastics cast over shallow rock and gravel in 8-12 feet. Position far enough off the area so you do not spook shallow feeding fish. Work shorelines without getting too close as well.

“For crappies, cast small Beetle Spins and hair jigs with crappie minnows. Using electronics helps locate the schools more quickly, as well as follow them as they move around.

“Wisconsin gun deer hunting season starts this weekend so do not be surprised if you hear gunshots in the distance!”


Trent at Hayward Bait says ice is forming around lake edges and bays, but good fishing opportunities continue.

“Musky anglers are still chasing after trophy fish. Live bait remains the best option IF you can find musky suckers, but large rubber lures and crankbaits work well this time of year. Most catches are in 15 feet or shallower.

“Walleyes stage deeper during daylight hours, but move shallow after dark – which is now fairly early. During the day, search in 25-35 feet. In after dark hours, work depths inside 15 feet. Use fatheads and walleye suckers on jigs.

“Northern pike are in 15 feet and shallower, with smaller pike shallower than larger fish. Northern suckers, spoons, and crankbaits work well.

“Largemouth bass are in 10-20 feet, on edges, steep banks, and underwater creek beds. Skirted jigs, spoons, and jerkbaits will trigger strikes.

“Smallmouth bass are around drop-offs, flats, and humps in 15-25 feet. Ned Rigs, skirted jigs, and walleye suckers are good choices.

“Crappies are in 25-30 feet, with some suspending mid-way in the water column. Use crappie minnows, hair jigs, small lipless crankbaits, and waxies on lures and jigs.

“Bluegills are in 20-25 feet, though 10-15 feet on some waterbodies. Use waxies on small tungsten jigs and crawlers under slip bobbers.

“The whitetail rut is in full swing and gun deer season opens this weekend!”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses where fish go to winter.

“If you are like me, you dread being cooped up in our Wisconsin winters – but fish might have it even worse during winter. As ice covers our lakes, and river water drops to near freezing temperatures, it reduces the options for where fish can live.

“Fish need three basic things to survive in winter: Oxygen, temperature, and minimal flow. The need for oxygen should be self-explanatory, but it is often the hardest of the three requirements for fish to find.

“Some shallow lakes run out of dissolved oxygen during the course of winter, resulting in winterkill. Even in deeper lakes, dissolved oxygen may be abundant early in the winter, but by late winter, only the uppermost layer of water will still have sufficient oxygen.

“Temperature tends to be more consistent in most lakes. The warmest water is where fish will want to be, and it is nearly always towards the bottom of the lake. Even a slight difference, of 3-4 degrees °F can make a huge difference in the metabolic capabilities fish.

“Lastly, it is too energetically costly for fish to swim against a strong flow all winter, so fish seek out areas with minimal flow, especially in river and reservoir systems. This can often mean backwaters or sloughs off a main channel.

“In many systems, areas that have all three of these elements can be limited. This can lead to large concentrations of fish in the few spots with good overwintering habitat. Conserving these rare and important habitat areas is critical to maintaining healthy populations, particularly in large river systems.”


A limited number of Hayward Holiday Raffle Tickets remain available for sale at the Information Center building and Hayward Community Credit Union in Hayward. The Hayward Chamber will draw winners Monday through Friday, from Dec. 1-31. Tickets cost $10/each or 6/$50. Winning tickets – you need not be present – go back into the wheel for another chance to win! There are 25 cash prizes totaling $3,100. Raffle tickets automatically enter you in an additional 25 drawings for $85 from Hayward Community Credit Union to honor its 85th anniversary. Purchase tickets anytime before Dec. 30 or tickets sell out. For more information, visit or call (715) 634-8662.


As of November 10, turkey hunters in Wisconsin have registered 2,956 turkeys. The harvest in zones 4, 6, and 7 are as follows: Zone 4: 406; Zone 6: 258; Zone 7: 136. Sales of bonus fall turkey authorizations continue at one per person, per day, until the unit sells out or seasons end, and cost $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents. Zone 4 has 1,224 bonus harvest permits still available. No permits remain for zones 6-7. Fall turkey season in zones 6-7 ends Nov. 20, but remains open in zones 1-5 through Jan. 3.


As of November 10, the Sawyer County deer harvest total this season is 940, including 548 antlered and 392 antlerless. Current totals include Archery - 291 deer (160 antlered, 131 antlerless); Crossbow - 570 deer (355 antlered, 215 antlerless); and 79 deer (33 antlered, 46 antlerless) during the Oct. 10-11 Youth Deer Hunt.

As of November 16, Sawyer County has 175 bonus antlerless deer tags available for private land harvest. Rusk County has 525 public land and 1,354 private land tags; Washburn County has 2,208 private land tags. Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas, and Price counties have no bonus permits available. Bonus tag sales are one per person, per day, until the unit sells out or seasons end. Deer authorizations cost $12/residents, $20/nonresidents, and $5/youth younger than age 12.


The DNR encourages deer hunters to help families in need through the Deer Donation Program. Hunters can donate deer at one of the participating meat processors or, when purchasing hunting licenses, make monetary donations to help cover venison processing costs. Call ahead to the participating processor to make sure it can accept the deer. For more information, visit the DNR website at


Hayward Rod & Gun Club, three miles east of Hayward on County Road B, is hosting its annual rifle sight-in days through November 20, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The fee is $6 per rifle and there is a mask requirement. Experienced club members can assist with the process. This year’s rifle raffle is for a Ruger .308 Win. American Predator bolt action with 4-12x scope. Tickets cost $10/each or 3/$20. The drawing is 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, and the winner need not be present. For more information, call (715) 634-4912.


The DNR is hosting a virtual meeting Wednesday, November 18, regarding Lake Superior resources management and proposed new lake trout and cisco quotas and rule options. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Access the meeting via Skypeor by calling 866-715-6499 and entering pass code 7599820721#. For more information, contact Brad Ray (715-779-4036).



This could be the final open water fishing report for the season, depending on weather patterns. Most anglers are chasing musky and walleye and fishing is good – if you can handle “inclement” weather!



Musky anglers continue their quest, but most doing so without musky suckers. Work depths inside of 18 feet with suckers, large rubber baits, jerkbaits, and crankbaits. New fishing regulations effective April 1 of this year make Dec. 31 the closing date for musky season on open water in the Northern Zone (north of US Highway 10).



Walleye fishing is good to very good for anglers toughing out the weather conditions. Fish are in 20-30 feet during the day, but in 18 feet or less at night. Walleye suckers, fatheads, chubs, and cast/trolled crankbaits are all producing action. Note that walleye season on the Chippewa Flowage closes November 30.


Northern Pike: 

Northern pike continue to be trip savers. Find them around baitfish and weeds in depths to 20 feet, with smaller fish sticking to the shallower end of the range. Northern suckers, spoons, stickbaits, and crankbaits will all catch pike.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass action is surprisingly good for anglers still chasing them. Look for fish on and near hard bottoms, ledges, steep banks, and submerged creek beds. Skirted jigs, spoons, jerkbaits, and cast or trolled crankbaits all work well.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass anglers are catching some nice fish on hard bottom areas of rock, gravel, drop-offs, flats, humps, and shorelines in 8-25 feet. Walleye suckers, Ned Rigs, skirted jigs, crankbaits, and plastics are all effective.



Crappie fishing is good to very good. Look for schools of fish in depths to 30 feet, with some suspending mid water column. Crappie minnows, dressed jigs, waxies, plastics, and even small crankbaits are grabbing the attention of crappies.



Bluegill fishing is fair, with fish in 8-28 feet, depending on the lake. Waxies, crawler pieces, and plastics on small jigs, teardrops, and dressed jigs, with/without slip bobbers, and Beetle Spins all work well.


Upcoming Events

Nov. 14-20Hayward Rod & Gun Club – annual rifle sight-in days. Masks required. Fee is $6/rifle. (715-634-4912).

Nov. 18DNR virtual meeting on Lake Superior resources management; 6 p.m. (715-779-4036).

Nov. 19Crow season closes.

Nov. 20Fall turkey season closes in zones 6, 7 (see regs).

Nov. 21-29Traditional gun deer season (see regs).

Nov. 24Duck season closes in North Zone (see regs).

Nov. 28A Lure of Lights Open House – Hayward Main St. Horse-drawn sleigh rides 12-3 p.m. (800-724-2992).

Nov. 29Mourning dove season closes.

Nov. 30-Dec. 9Muzzleloader deer season (see regs).

Dec. 10Application deadline for spring turkey, bear tags.

Dec. 10-13Four-day antlerless deer hunt (see regs).

Dec. 16Goose season closes in Northern Zone (see regs).

Dec. 21Winter solstice. First day of winter – and shortest day of the year!

Dec. 24-Jan. 1Antlerless-only Holiday Hunt (see regs).

Dec. 25Bobcat Hunting Period 1 season closes (see regs).

Dec. 26Bobcat Hunting Period 2 season opens (see regs).


For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view the Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.